Jobs loss in Clinton
Renfro will be closed by June.
2023 has started with disappointing economic news for Clinton, as the Renfro socks distribution center will start closing in March.
Estimates are 100 people will lose their jobs.
“There are plenty of job opportunities now. We will have these people placed in short order,” Jon Coleman, President & CEO of the Laurens County Development Corporation, told the group’s annual meeting last Tuesday afternoon.
What’s more, he said, the closure will make a 550,000 sq ft plant available for a new tenant, and prospects in 2022 have told the LCDC they are in the market for large, existing buildings.
“This is a unique asset in Upstate South Carolina,” Coleman said. He added that LCDC is awaiting a flyer from the building’s new owner/marketer before having a LCDC push to have the Renfro building acquire a new tenant. It is at the intersection of Springdale Dr.-Hwy 72 Bypass and Hwy 76 East that connects Clinton and Joanna, and eventually Newberry and Columbia. The Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission is upgrading its City of Clinton wastewater connection at this intersection, and the Renfro building is across the road from the Clinton office of the Clinton-Newberry Natural Gas Authority - nearby are Whitten Center and Presbyterian College.
Coleman said there will be a jobs fair for Renfro employees in February.
The company has not made an announcement. Word of the closure comes from a WARN notification (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification). Layoffs are expected from March to June of this year.
The Code of Federal Regulations says, “Purpose of WARN. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN or the Act) provides protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs. Advance notice provides workers and their families some transition time to adjust to the prospective loss of employment, to seek and obtain alternative jobs and, if necessary, to enter skill training or retraining that will allow these workers to successfully compete in the job market. WARN also provides for notice to State dislocated worker units so that dislocated worker assistance can be promptly provided.” And
“WARN requires employers who are planning a plant closing or a mass layoff to give affected employees at least 60 days’ notice of such an employment action. While the 60-day period is the minimum for advance notice, this provision is not intended to discourage employers from voluntarily providing longer periods of advance notice. Not all plant closings and layoffs are subject to the Act, and certain employment thresholds must be reached before the Act applies. WARN sets out specific exemptions, and provides for a reduction in the notification period in particular circumstances. Damages and civil penalties can be assessed against employers who violate the Act.”
Renfro Distribution, headquartered in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, says on its website, “Founded in 1921, we have pioneered some of the most important innovations in sock manufacturing, from standardizing sock sizes to eliminating toe seams. Our products can be found on the feet of people around the world – going for their daily jog and throwing their first little league pitch. They’re pulled up for a hard day’s work and under a great pair of slacks. We’re part of so many different lifestyles and activities that we learn new things about our consumers every day.”
Renfro’s closing comes on the heels of another Upstate industry shutting down - The Timken Company has announced closure of its Gaffney location.
This Timken location employs 225 people, and the company says it will be “gradually winding down operations,” a report said. An associate will get at least 60 days notice before their last day, a company spokesman said. The company makes bearings and industrial motion products. It has job openings at Tyger River, Duncan, and Honea Path, as well as Asheboro, Lincolnton, and Rutherford County, N.C., a report said.
Meanwhile, Laurens County is experiencing an uptick in its automotive sector.
In Fountain Inn, north of Clinton, Yanfeng, a leading global automotive supplier, announced last Wednesday the expansion of its operations. The company’s investment of $49.6 million will create approximately 58 new jobs over the next five years, according to an announcement by the SC Department of Commerce, which handles these kinds of announcements statewide along with the Governor’s Office.
Yanfeng has more than 240 locations and 67,000 employees worldwide. The company’s core product portfolio focuses on interior, exterior, seating, cockpit electronics and passive safety, the announcement says.
Yanfeng, Shamrock Technologies, Blue Diamond Industries (Clinton), Volvo (supplier), Sunny Days Entertainment, Europastry, and Motor City Racks make up Laurens County’s $173,050,000 in new economic development investments for 2022.
These investments are adding 491 new jobs, even as the Renfro closure takes away 100 jobs from the Laurens County workforce.
JOBS GAIN ELSEWHERE:
Milo’s Tea Company establishing its first South Carolina operations in Spartanburg County
$130 million investment will create 103 new jobs
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Milo’s Tea Company (Milo’s), a leading beverage company, today announced plans to establish its first South Carolina operations in Spartanburg County. The company’s $130 million investment will create 103 new jobs.
Founded in 1946, Milo’s is a family-owned beverage company that provides a variety of flavored teas and beverages to customers across the nation. The company offers a portfolio of high-quality, natural ingredient beverages including sweet tea, unsweet tea and lemonade. Milo’s is a leading refrigerated tea brand and one of the fastest growing lemonade brands in America.
Located at Park 290 at Interstate 26 in Moore, the initial design of Milo’s Spartanburg County operations includes a new 110,000-square-foot plant, which will accommodate brewing and bottling operations for ready-to-drink beverages. The Spartanburg County facility will be the company’s fourth plant in the United States.
Operations are expected to be online by the end of 2024. Individuals interested in joining the Milo’s team should visit the company’s careers page.
The Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved job development credits related to this project.
“South Carolina was the optimal location to efficiently serve our customers up and down the East Coast. Like our selection journey for our Oklahoma facility, we immediately felt at home in the Spartanburg area as we received a warm welcome from state and local community partners. South Carolina and Spartanburg County in particular proved to be the right ecosystem to help us advance our people-first culture by offering an excellent standard of living for our associates and robust workforce development resources to drive economic prosperity not only for our people, but also for the region.”-Milo’s Tea Company Chief Executive Officer Tricia Wallwork
“South Carolina’s strong economy continues to attract leading businesses such as Milo’s Tea Company. Their decision to invest in South Carolina will significantly strengthen our beverage industry, and the new jobs will greatly enhance the Spartanburg County community and the state as a whole.”-Gov. Henry McMaster
“South Carolina’s incredible workforce and business-friendly climate provide the perfect ingredients for Milo’s Tea Company’s new operations. We welcome this family-owned company to Spartanburg County and look forward to the success they will brew in our state.” -Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III
“Every time a popular, established brand brings operations to Spartanburg County, it grows our presence in the region and the country, and just goes to further prove how good a place Spartanburg County is to do business. We are excited to welcome Milo’s to Spartanburg County and eager to have some of the first tea brewed at their facility.” -Spartanburg County Councilman and Economic Development Committee Chairman David Britt